Abstract

Multielemental microanalysis of commercially available aluminum alloys has been performed in air by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) by use of UV laser pulses with energies below 10 µJ. It is shown that the LIBS technique is capable of detecting the elemental composition of particles less than 10 µm in size, such as precipitates in an aluminum alloy matrix, by using single laser shots. Chemical mapping with a lateral resolution of ∼10 µm of the distribution of precipitates in the surface plane of a sample was also carried out. Two main types of precipitate, namely, Mn-Fe-Cu (type I) and Mg-Cu (type II), were unambiguously distinguished in our LIBS experiments, in good agreement with x-ray microanalysis measurements. The relative standard deviations of emission of the main minor constituent elements (Cu, Mg, Mn) of the aluminum 2024 alloy range from 33% to 39% when laser shots on the precipitates are included in the analysis but decrease to a range from 5.3% to 7.4% when laser shots are taken only on the matrix material, excluding the precipitates.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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